Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Brimelow McSweeney’s tiles refer to 11 Floral Street’s past use as a Covent Garden seed warehouse


Andy Stagg

Floral Street is a narrow street lined with former warehouses that once served London’s historic Covent Garden flower market. Its redevelopment forms a current phase in landlord Capco’s transformation of Covent Garden into a major retail and dining destination.

Brimelow McSweeney Architects’ scheme comprises two buildings that had become intrinsically interconnected over the years. Number 11 was a Victorian warehouse, set back from the street, that had been extended and modified over the years, and number 12 was a parish school dating from 1838 but restyled externally in an Italianate manner in 1860. ­Together they now provide 26,000 square feet of retail and office spaces.

The buildings had hosted a variety of uses over the years, from seed storage to the celebrated Sanctuary spa between 1977 and 2013. Complex levels of pool fit-out and plant had to be cleared in the project, which has sought to return the fabric and spaces to their original character. The grade-two-listed school building has been restored, and its Italianate stucco details complemented by a double-height glazed ceramic facade at number 11 that can be glimpsed from the busy shopping thoroughfare of Long Acre.


The bespoke faience panels, developed with manufacturer Darwen Terracotta, each measure 790x430mm, a little below the maximum recommended size. The relief pattern, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and developed by Brimelow McSweeney Architects, represents the texture of a seed pod in reference to the building’s former use.


The panel design was produced from a 3D-printed prototype of a Sketchup model, and this was used to determine the shrinkage tolerances required before firing, as well as to make moulds for the castings. Because terracotta panel colours tend not to be produced to RAL colours, chemical powders are applied to the surface before firing and glazing. White was selected, referencing the glazed bricks that lighten dark alleyways in the vicinity, and various tones were sampled on half-sized panels.

Prior to their final glazing and firing the 110 tiles were laid out together in the factory for inspection. Following their installation on site, the facade was completed with bronze-framed glazing and a metal fretwork parapet.

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Brimelow McSweeney Architects
Facade design
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Faience panels
Darwen Terracotta